The Prep Expert’s Blueprint for Leadership

Dr. Shaan Patel‘s story reads like the American Dream made real: with grit and determination, he rose from a modest background and mediocre SAT scores to earn an MD and become CEO of a market-leading company. He also scored an appearance and investment on Shark Tank to add a little spice to the tale!

The CEO of Prep Expert spoke to us about his remarkable leadership journey in our podcast. Along the way, Shaan learned leadership lessons that are valuable to every exec and entrepreneur. Find them below.

Embrace Challenge.

You can’t lead on cruise control. From team conflicts to cunning competitors, challenges inevitably arise. At the very least, you gain knowledge and skills from each challenge. But shrewd leaders go further, accepting those challenges as opportunities in disguise. Even small challenges help: in a very real sense, penicillin and the wave of antibiotics that followed resulted from the challenge of washing dirty Petri dishes! In Shaan’s case, his initial struggle with his SAT test led to the creation of Prep Expert—a personal challenge leading to the solution of a broader issue.

Adaptability Is Crucial.

The world has changed. Instead of “getting back to normal,” changes continue to come at us all the faster. Adapting to these changing circumstances is key to success. Indeed, refusing to adapt can do more than limit success: it can render you and your organization outright irrelevant. So, embrace change along with challenges; you’ll stay ahead of the curve (and the competition). This is another face of resilience, and Shaan has demonstrated it many times on his journey. Even on Shark Tank, he was met with great skepticism—but persevered and won over shark Mark Cuban.

Put People First.

From front-line workers to customers, your business loop begins and ends with people. Internally, promote empowerment throughout your team; this fosters a sense of ownership and accountability in them. Externally, think about your social impact beyond profit. Having a broader view of success is a win-win: you’re doing good for others, which enhances your reputation and fosters customer and team loyalty. Plus, it just plain feels good (a fact that has been scientifically verified!).

Keep Learning.

This has become a common theme with our guests: with constant change, we must constantly learn. The knowledge that led to past success may not be enough to maintain it. Shaan is committed to continuous learning; right now, that’s reflected in working to better understand AI and how it will affect his industry. Even for seasoned execs, there’s tremendous value in mentorship and coaching. Shaan sees his mentoring with Mark Cuban as a major contribution to his leadership growth.

Innovate and Think Forward.

Being proactive keeps you ahead of the curve. By forward-thinking, you anticipate change before it becomes disruptive. That helps keep you and your team operating smoothly. Even better, the solutions you develop to meet those changes may well be ground-breaking innovations that enhance your success even further.

Shaan set himself apart by discerning these principles. He met challenges by innovating solutions—and by looking ahead to create his own changes, leading to leadership (and company) growth.

The best part is that these are universal principles anyone can adopt. In fact, they’re all part of the leadership framework we developed at the Innovative Leadership Institute. To learn about them in more detail, check our website at, or DM us here on LinkedIn!


This article was adapted by Dan Mushalko from our podcast episode Leadership Lessons from Shark Tank…and Beyond.

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